Oh Nuts Donuts’ mini donut truck has only been in business since the first of this year, but they’ve already made and sold more than 60,000 pieces of their light and airy fried dessert.
Nicole Niekerk left her career as a dental nurse and was doing embroidery work with Mama, Judy Adkins, when her grandmother came up with a great idea to start a donut van. “At first we thought she was crazy,” Niekerk said. “Then we started doing our own research and kind of went with it.”
“I do all the cooking in the house, but when they approached me, I thought they were crazy too,” said Wade Adkins, Neckerk’s father and business partner.
The couple bought the food trailer last fall, but when Neckerk’s mother, Tina Adkins, received a breast cancer diagnosis, they halted their plans. “We are so glad we waited; she is now recovering and past all that,” said Nickerke. “She helps us with the truck, too.”
The family decided to do something different from the other food trucks selling yeast donuts and chose a small funnel-shaped cake.
Oh Nuts Donuts offers a list of flavours: Plain, Cinnamon Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Chocolate Fudge, Reese’s, Caramel, Cookies & Cream, Strawberry & Cream, Nut Butter, Boston Cream Pie, Vanilla with Sprinkles, Glazed, S’mores, Apple Pie & Turtle.
“In terms of flavors, we did a family survey. I love apple pie and lemon cream pie,” said Wade Adkins. “Nicole loves cinnamon, and my wife loves Boston cream pie.” So far, strawberries and cream have been a top seller at Oh Nuts Donuts.
“We’ll be putting seasonal stuff in the spring and summer, like lemon pie,” Niekerk said. “When we fall, we’ll do pumpkin and maple. But we have our 10 essential flavors that we’ll always have.”
Niekerk said they started selling cakes in a large tray. “We did a small sampler with the family and they said it was too much. Smaller trays were a bigger hit.” Buckets were more common than we expected.
Every Monday they release Oh Nuts Donuts food truck schedule on Facebook @ohnutsdonutss. “We slowly started buying food truck permits in the Lakeway, Morristown, Jefferson City, and then Dandridge areas,” Nickerk said. “We ventured out to Routledge, and last month we bought one for Knoxville. Last week we went down the halls.”
The Oh Nuts Donuts machine can make 2,400 donuts an hour, and the counter on the machine shows, according to Wade Adkins, that they may have sold upwards of 60,000 donuts. “We’ve only sold it up to four or five times so far,” Nikkerk said. “So your best bet is not to wait until the last hour.”
Adkins said they had one customer who traveled from Kentucky to buy donuts once. “It shows us that we are doing a good job,” he said.
Neikirk and Adkins succeeded in reducing the waiting time for cakes.
“Especially if they are on the move, it helps in not having to wait 5-10 minutes,” she said.
As for the name, Neikirk gave her father a list of 10 possible brand names. “I let him choose,” she said. “There were a lot of interesting names, but we imagined a squirrel and it just hit me, I thought that was what we needed,” Adkins said.
Oh Nuts Donuts will be at the Signature Home Market Warehouse shopping event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 7116 Regal Lane, Knoxville. They have also planned to reside between Halls Elementary and Middle Schools to service the staff, and the truck will be at Union County Farmers Market once a month this spring/summer.